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Malum: Part 1 (The Elite King’s Club #4)
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“Love is savage, love is blind, love is something they may not find…”
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How many times in one lifetime do they say you find a soulmate? Is it once? Twice? Three times? Ice cream slipped down my throat as I thought of this. The quote scribbled on a rusty piece of paper read: You find three types of love in your lifetime. The first will show you all that you did wrong. The second will show you how you should be loved, but the third will show you what it feels like to die while still being alive. I didn’t know why my small, six-year-old brain had taken those words and twisted them inside of her head, but that didn’t sound right to me. Why would I want to love three times? That sounded too exhausting.
I’d rather lick this ice cream.
“Tillie!” my sister, Peyton, called out to me, robbing my attention away from the storefront window.
My sister was the opposite of me. I was blonde, she had red hair. Fire hydrant red, too, and the freckles to match. She was the popular girl at school, mainly because she cared entirely too much what people thought of her, and I was the nerd.
“Hurry up, dipshit. If we’re late, Dad will get mad and you know what happens when he’s mad.”
My ice cream cone smashed to the filthy ground as realization sunk in from the onslaught of her verbal throw down.
I wiped my hands on my shorts and nodded. “Okay, let’s go.”
Metallic slapped my mouth as I fell to the ground. Everything in the room spinning in a carousel that I’m all too familiar with.
“You were late. Why were you late?” A thick boot slammed into my rib cage and a loud crack vibrated through the air.
“I was eating my ic—ic—ice cream.”
He chuckled so loud that I winced. I hate your laugh. The smell of stale cheap whiskey danced with musky cigarette smoke and exploded around me to form the distinguishing smell of Darren Lovett, aka, my dad.
I focus on a single dent in the floor of our trailer. The place my eyes always found when I was beaten into this position. I used to flick my marbles into it for fun, now I use it as sustenance to know that I’m still alive.
The beatings carry on for around an hour. An hour of pure terror. The back and forth toss up inside of my head on whether I’m going to live through it. Will I want to be alive by the end of it?
“It’s my fault, Dad. I let her get the stupid ice cream,” Peyton protested.
Dad didn’t pay her any attention.
I close my eyes and let my thoughts carry me to a wondrous world where pain doesn’t exist.
Pain exists everywhere though. It always has. At six-years-old, I knew that my life would be filled with nothing but pain.
They say that losing your lover can be an agony that’s so unbearable the mere thought of it can cripple you.
I take a tentative step toward the gravesite, placing a bouquet of flowers over the gravestone while ignoring the people that are gathered here today.
They lied. The most crippling pain that comes isn’t from losing your lover, it’s from losing something that was so precious that you didn’t deserve it to begin with.
“I fucking hate this place,” I murmured to Bishop around my chicken drumstick. I tried hard to ignore all of the stores that lined the main street of Perdita and watched as people moved away from us. I felt like Moses parting The Red Sea. People were afraid of us here, with good reason. Our reputation never failed us. Of all the times I have been here, there has always been one place that I can’t ignore—Caesar’s Chicken. The man grills his chicken to perfection, so every time we’re in Perdita, you can bet your ass I’ll be in Caesar’s first. Fuck our mission, or whatever else I have to do here. First stop is always Caesar’s. I make all The Kings wait too.
“We don’t have to be here long, chill.”
I take a big bite and tear the meat from the bone while eyeing a woman walking with her kid. Not a fan of kids. Annoying little fuckers. She quickly tucks her son’s head under her arm and pulls him along.
I bare my teeth and bite down, snapping at her. She lets out a small scream and runs off like a panicked little rat.
Bishop shakes his head. “Stop scaring the locals.”
“Fuck em’.” I look forward to the endless path ahead of me, the path that I know leads straight to Katsia’s dungeon. You know, if a dungeon was a mansion that was built from the rarest marble and stone and then hammered together with carved diamonds.
“What does she want?” I ask, tossing the bone into a passing bin.
“Don’t know yet. Probably your dick.”